Sunday, December 24, 2000

It's CHRIST-mas

Can't have too much of a good thing

        I saw Santa Claus on Halloween this year, waving from a window at Lazarus.

        I figure it won't be long before kids will celebrate “the holidays” by trick-or-treating in Santa suits, going door-to-door to collect carefully wrapped presents of turkey and gravy.

        Happy Hallo-Thanks-Christmas-Giving-New Year!

        The creeping seasonal sprawl is stretching the city limits of Christmas like some hyphenated Dallas-Fort Worth of holidays. This year, Halloween. Next year, Labor Day — and on to the Fourth of July, with exploding reindeer.

        This is where I'm supposed to do the predictable thing and launch a scold-a-thon about the “commercialism of Christmas.”

        I don't think so.

        How can we have “too much” of the special spirit of giving that lights our hearts from within like a candle in a window on a cold winter night? How can we have “too much” of goodwill that thaws our souls and warms us with concern for others? How can we have “too much” of Christmas memories of sparkling trees that bring the pine scent of the deep woods into our living rooms, the glow of ornaments and the sound of a halleluiah chorus as powerful as a force of nature?

        No, I don't worry about too much Christmas. I worry about not enough. I worry that as Christmas overflows its traditional borders, it is losing its identity just as merged cities dilute theirs. I worry that Christmas is turning into a continuous strip mall of ACLU-approved generic “holidays.”

        Our one-size-fits-all “Season's Greetings” is tailored for everyone and no one.

        This year, cities around the nation have outlawed Christmas trees and creches on public property, to avoid offending those who do not celebrate Christmas.

        When did the right of one person to not be “offended” supersede everyone else's right to celebrate Christmas?

        We don't stop celebrating Independence Day because it offends British-Americans. We don't call off Labor Day because it offends capitalists. Thanksgiving is under assault as an affront to Native Americans, but that hasn't reduced our appetite for turkey and dressing.

        So why do we let a few intolerant gripers take the Christ out of Christmas?

        Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate tomorrow, warned us that if we deny Him, He will deny us to the Father.

        Yet Christmas parties are canceled because someone might be offended to receive an ornament for a tree.


        Even the courts agree that our modern Santa season, as seen on TV, is so removed from the real meaning of Christmas that there are no grounds to worry that the eggnog might be spiked with religion.

        Christmas has been accused of being Christian — but there's not enough evidence to prove it in court.

        In fact, the lesson kids get is just the opposite. Every child knows you better not shout, you better not pout, because Santa is checking his list to give the best presents to the good boys and girls.

        Yet the real Christmas gift is something that cannot be earned: God so loved the world that he sent his only perfect son, as a helpless infant, born in the straw of a manger, to give us what we did not deserve — forgiveness and peace.

        That's the true meaning of Christmas that Christians celebrate on this night of all nights. The meaning of Christmas shines like the rising sun, a reminder of the Son of God, who brought a new day for all mankind.

        The white Christmas we long for is the second chance to start over — as clean and fresh as new-fallen snow.

        We can't get too much of that.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.


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